Saturday, October 24, 2015

1 in 3 kids in Toronto lives in poverty -Feed tomorrow week

October 19th marked the beginning of the 11th annual feed tomorrow week, five days when student volunteers, educators, supporters, politicians and public figures raising awareness and collecting pledges to feed Toronto’s hungry children. 
Feed tomorrow week is hosted by the Toronto Foundation for Student Success (TFSS) and proclaimed by the City of Toronto.
The Toronto Foundation for Student Success helps students succeed by helping to feed students, addressing issues of poverty, hunger, and poor nutrition, and their effect on education. 
TFSS works in partnership to bring together the resources, of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the Toronto District School Board, education workers, families, concerned corporations, other NGOs, private individuals and the many diverse communities within Toronto.
The goal of the Toronto Foundation for Student Success is to help enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills and values they need to become responsible members of society.

FACTS

  • 1 out of 3 children in Toronto lives in poverty and more than 170,000 children and youth rely on breakfast, snack or lunch to make it through the day in more than 750 school and community nutrition programs. 
  • 3.9 Million people in Canada don't know when they're going to eat next. 1.1 million are children.
  • Children and youth, though only 21% of the country's population, make up 38% of those helped by freed food programs and student nutrition programs.
  • 40% of all children come to school hungry each day. It can be as high as 68% in at risk communities.
  • 78% of secondary school students who eat breakfast on most days are on track for graduation.
  • Canada is the only G8 country without a national school based student nutrition program.
  • Research shows that students who eat breakfast produce better grades, are healthier, have increased motivation, are 50% less likely to be suspended and less likely to miss school on a regular basis.
  • A healthy breakfast for a child costs just $1.50.
VIP bus tour group -photo provided by TFSS 

On October 21st I joined a group of VIPs at St. Lawrence Market and boarded school buses to travel to three schools to see nutrition programs in action. The group met with community volunteers and children and learn first-hand about the need these programs address


SCHOOLS

  1. Ryerson Community School (96 Denison Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 1E4), (Principal - Kien Nam Luu)
  2. First Nations School of Toronto (935 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1R4)
  3. Dundas Junior Public School (935 Dundas Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1R4) Principal - Georgia Chatzis)
Our day started off early at about 7:30am at St. Lawrence Market to meet up and grab a bagel and a coffee and hear about the Toronto Foundation for Student Success.  They were presented a large cheque for $545,000 from the Breakfast Clubs of Canada organization for the program.


This goes a long way but the increasing need for food banks and breakfast programs in Toronto means that it isn't going to last very long.
TFSS only receives  25 cents per child from the government and the cost per breakfast program meal is $1.32 so it has to come from public donations and corporate donations to make it happen.
There may be hope from our current new Government with Justin Trudeau as our new Prime Minister because he was an educator and is fully aware of the problem of child hunger in this country.  
It's shameful that currently 14 cents come from the City of Toronto and only 11 cents from the Province of Ontario to make up the 25 cents per child for breakfast.  What can YOU buy for 25 cents?
It is important for kids to be given nutritious food because 1 in 11 kids have diabetes now.  The rate has been rapidly rising over the past few years and it's important for kids to eat consistent healthy foods for their health.

We all hopped on a School bus to drive over to the schools and the first school that we toured was Ryerson Community school where we were given a guided tour by students who volunteered for the breakfast program to bring the bins of snacks into the classes where there was a need.  I must say the 2 kids that took us to 3 classes were extremely polite and informative.  They are learning great skills in volunteering at the same time.


The second and third schools were actually held in the same building on different levels.
We arrived at the First Nations Junior and Senior School of Toronto and received an offering of tobacco wrapped in fabric.  The tobacco is grown on the school property and used in their traditional First Nations ceremonial practices.  There were also kids in a drumming circle led by their teacher to greet us and young student passed around a bowl with the burning tobacco and I believe sage as well for us to be smudged in their smudging ceremony.  They perform the smudging ritual weekly to rid any negative energy.  I know I could use some of that for sure.  It was very spiritual ceremony.

At the las school Dundas Junior Public School we were told about the food safety program that they were doing.  There were students from S.E.E.D. Alternative High School who create their own learning contract.  Most of them are geared to working in health, education or the food industry in their future.  They all receive training to get a food handlers certificate which enables them to be able to work in a commercial kitchen or work in the food industry.  
They had a black light set up in the kitchen to demonstrate the importance of hand washing.

We were also shown their small but efficient kitchens that allow them to deliver either morning snacks and lunches in some cases and in other cases afternoon snacks too.  Different schools and grade levels and needs have different breakfast, lunch programs depending on the need and of course the funding available for them.  
In the First Nations school they are served Fresh Salmon and other native dishes like Bannock for their lunch as it is traditional food for them.  Because of their practice of bulk buying for the 2 joined schools the Dundas school is also able to share some of the First Nations food so both schools get an education about Aboriginal food and traditional food.  

The kitchens are staffed by a Coordinator who manages the budgets and organizes the parent volunteers who prepare the food for the children.  It's a tough job because not only is the budget extremely small but they are required to have a dairy, grain and fruit in each morning snack and it must cost less than $1.32 per child.  

After the tour we enjoyed a reception at St. Lawrence Market with food provided by the vendors of the market.  Photo on the left is me with fellow food blogger/makeup artist Carole Nelson Brown. (photo provided by TFSS)

me & Carole Nelson Brown
With the ever increasing rents, housing prices in Toronto and the decreasing wages and job opportunities there seems to be an ever increasing need for organizations like TFSS to pick up the need for kids who need someone to help them.  If you are able to help please click on the link below.

DONATE NOW at www.tfss.ca



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